Sometimes the hidden gems within the plain text of the Bible simply seem too good to be true. Thankfully, the Bible is both good and true!
We find one of those incredible Biblical gems in Matthew 27 through the notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.Matthew 27:15–16, ESV
Have you ever considered the significance of the name of this notorious prisoner? The implications are fascinating.
The name can be broken into two parts: “Bar” and “Abbas”.
To understand the first part of the name, notice verses like Matthew 16:17.
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon BAR-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 16:17, ESV, emphasis added
In case the context does not clear up the meaning, “Bar” means “son”. Simon Bar-Jonah is the Jewish way of saying, “Simon, son of Jonah”.
The second part may be made most clear from verses like Romans 8:15.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ABBA! Father!”Romans 8:15, ESV, emphasis added
Again, in case the context does not clear up the meaning, “Abba” means “Father”.
Let’s put it all together. Barabbas means “Son(s) of the Father”.
Perhaps the full implication has not yet been made clear. Let’s clear it up:
Barrabas, or “Son(s) of the Father”, was a notorious sinner who was sentenced to die and deserved every bit of the death sentence he was given. His death was deserved and it was imminent. There was a cross prepared just for him. It was awaiting him. But he never received it. Barrabas, or “Son(s) of the Father”, did not die that day. Another Son of the Father took his place.
Jesus died in place of the sons (and daughters) of the Father.
Jesus was innocent. Barrabas was guilty.
The sons and daughters of God had all sinned, and all deserved eternal death, but the one and only Son of God offers them eternal life.
Do you see it? We are Barabbas!
God, in His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge set this situation up perfectly, hidden in plain sight, so that everyone would know… Jesus died on YOUR cross.
He died on my cross.
I am infinitely grateful for His work on the cross, for His gift of eternal life, for making it possible for me to be adopted into God’s family, truly becoming Barabbas, myself… a son of the Father.